Hanover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony. Its 535,061 inhabitants make it the 13th-largest city in Germany as well as the third-largest city in Northern Germany after Hamburg and Bremen. Hanover's urban area comprises the towns of Garbsen, Langenhagen and Laatzen and has a population of about 791,000. The Hanover Region has approximately 1.16 million inhabitants.
The city lies at the confluence of the River Leine and its tributary Ihme, in the south of the North German Plain, and is the largest city in the Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region. It is the fifth-largest city in the Low German dialect area after Hamburg, Dortmund, Essen and Bremen.
Before it became the capital of Lower Saxony in 1946, Hanover was the capital of the Principality of Calenberg, the Electorate of Hanover, the Kingdom of Hanover, the Province of Hanover of the Kingdom of Prussia, the Province of Hanover of the Free State of Prussia and of the State of Hanover.